Working Stiff:Casimir (Runaway Billionaires #1)(10)

By: Blair Babylon

Cash pointed at the cubicle farm of admins outside her door. “Melanie or Sierra might decide to bring their cats to work. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sunbeam or Daffodil were hiding hamsters in their desks. Not you.”

“It’s nothing,” Rox whispered because her throat was closing up.

He continued, “I can count on you to be professional in all things. I can take you to impromptu meetings with clients or other lawyers because I know that you’ll behave impeccably and you’re always dressed professionally.”

Her hands twisted together in front of her, and Pirate chose that moment to bonk his thick skull against her leg, begging for petting, because of course he did.

Cash said, “I can trust that you won’t dress like a sexy vampire on Halloween or sport foil hearts in your hair on Valentine’s Day. I can travel with you because I know that I won’t find you naked in my bed as if we’re on a nookie run on the firm’s expense account, and we can get the work done. I force HR to give you whatever salary you ask for because I can’t work with the other paralegals. They’re all over me and the clients and the opposing counsel that I bring in. They’re unprofessional. I rely on you. You’re my rock in this office. You wouldn’t bring cats to work unless something were terribly wrong. What is wrong?”

Her eyes burned. “Nothing.”

“Bullshit. I call bullshit, Rox.”

When he swore in that staunch British accent, it always made her giggle, and she gulped while she looked at the fluorescent tube lights on the ceiling and blinked.

“Rox?” His voice had softened.

When she glanced at him, the whole room swam from the water in her eyes.

“Are you crying?” he asked, panic rising in his voice.

“No. I never cry.” Something dropped out of her eye and splashed on her cheek.

“Roxanne!” Footsteps clomped on the carpet, and Cash’s horrified face blocked out the lights. His hands hovered near her shoulders but grasped the air. “Did Grant hit you? Was there an incidence of abuse? Did you have to leave him in the middle of the night?”

“No. He would never.” Really. He would never. The other figments of her imagination almost never hit her, either. She almost laughed at that.

“Are you sick?” Cash asked, his eyes horrified.

“I’m not sick. Why would I bring my cats to work if I were sick?”

“I don’t know. Comfort? The thought worried me.” Cash’s shoulders lowered, and his hands dropped to his sides. “All right, whatever it is, you can tell me. No matter what it is, I’ll help you.”

He was standing really close to her. They never stood this close together. They stood shoulder-to-shoulder, sure, when they were going over paperwork or sitting at a table, negotiating a contract. On airplanes, they always flew first-class, so the seat armrests were solid all the way down to the cushions.

They never touched each other, though, unless it was absolutely necessary, and even then, as little as possible. It was one of the unspoken rules of their relationship that kept them friends, good friends, and nothing else.

The light scent of his cologne, sweet wood and delicious spices like cinnamon and vanilla, mixed with the warmth drifting out of his suit, even though he wasn’t ranting.

They didn’t stand this close together, ever, and Rox’s forehead only came up to his chest, even though she was wearing heels.

If she leaned forward, she could rest her forehead against his chest.

His low voice was gentle, almost like he murmured to her, “We’ve been friends too long for this. Tell me what’s going on.”

She couldn’t quite open her throat enough to talk.

He raised his hand beside her shoulder, and for a minute, she thought he was going to wrap his arms around her.

She should step back if he did. She should gently push him off of her and not let anything get out of hand.

Rox leaned forward two inches and rested her forehead against his shoulder.

It was ridiculous that the square inch of contact of her forehead against his suit jacket suffused comfort through her. She hadn’t told anyone what was going on, and the isolation was the worst part.

She breathed in the subtle scent of his cologne and natural musk.